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APEX INTERVIEW Norbert Mueller

Senior VP at Lufthansa Systems talks to onboard hospitality about BoardConnect

 Michael Small, ceo of Gogo, inflight connectivity and digital entertainment solutions provider, has announced a new ground-to- orbit (GTO) system to enhance the company's current air-to- ground (ATG) system and provide a six times increase in speed. The system relies on a new

antenna that is smaller, with less drag, and saves fuel. This highly resilient and reliable system is backed up by ATG-4, the most efficient network available. The new system will achieve speeds of 60Mbs, which will increase as new satellites are launched. This is not yet fast enough to stream full length videos to every seat, but Small suggested that this is not a realistic requirement. ATG-4 is only available in North

America, so this new system is confined to the US and Canada. The system is to be adopted in 2014 by Virgin America. “Because we are a Silicon Valley-based airline, Virgin America guests expect a fully-connected inflight experience that enables them to remain productive even at 35,000 feet,” said president and ceo of Virgin America David Cush. “We were proud to be the first to offer Gogo’s ATG-4 product last year

and we are pleased to be the launch partner for GTO which will be another leap forward in terms of speed and performance of inflight wifi for our guests.” Gogo will be utilising a Ku

antenna developed specifically for receive-only functionality. It will be twice as spectrally efficient and half the height of other antennas. The low profile of the antenna will result in less drag and therefore fuel burn. Gogo’s new satellite antenna can work with today’s Ku-band satellites as well as future ones, including spot beam Ku satellites. This enables Gogo to take advantage of any new satellite technologies as soon as they become available. Small says: "This is the most efficient system in North America. Nothing will be faster."

"Our passengers expect a fully- connected inflight experience even at

35,000 feet" President and CEO Virgin America David Cush

OBH: Can you talk us through the BoardConnect offering? NM: It is a wireless inflight entertainment portal with a server and 4-5 wifi access points to cover the entire cabin. Passengers are able to use their own tablet PCs, laptops and smartphones, so they are no longer confined to hardware that does not match the level of technology they are used to. But more importantly BoardConnect enables new ways of interaction between an airline and its passengers.

Which airlines are using it? Lufthansa is installing it on all 20 of its narrow-bodied A321 jets, to be in service by 2014. It is also being adopted by Virgin Australia. We are seeing tremendous interest from airlines all over the world. as they realise that BoardConnect can help them tap new revenue streams and differentiate them from their competition.

What advantages does it have over the competition?

In terms of technology and innovation BoardConnect is the most advanced product on the market. It includes a variety of features our competitors can’t offer and sets a new standard in many respects. It has been two years in development by Lufthansa Systems, and has the advantage of full Digital Rights Management support. BoardConnect is the only system with the approval of the top six Hollywood studios to ensure the early availability of top class movies. It also has unlimited multi- language support, closed caption facilities, and potentially seven different levels of parental control.

How does it contribute to AR? We have just presented a shopping module, which is able to host multiple, individually-branded shops, and a highly interactive moving map, both creating

new opportunities for airlines to generate ancillary revenues. The new online shop has a clean and well-structured interface design, making it easy for passengers to find and buy products. Additional revenue sources are sales of content, if appropriate to the airline brand as well as revenues from advertising.

What content does it make available? Passengers can enjoy all kinds of streaming audio and video including the latest films, games, books, electronic magazines and news, which will be updated on each turnaround. When the aircraft has a broadband connection, passengers will be able to go to the internet, access their email, Twitter or stay connected with their Facebook friends.

Is it usable on takeoff and landing? Current regulations require passengers to switch off all electronic devices under 10,000 feet. That is what BoardConnect is certified for as well. But that might change. The FAA has tasked a government-industry group to reassess these restrictions. So should standards allow, BoardConnect will be available for gate to gate use.

Why adopt it?

Because it will change the travel experience, boost ancillary revenues and is much more cost-efficient than conventional IFE systems. BoardConnect is 50% cheaper to install than a seatback screen system, has 50% lower operating costs and is 70% cheaper on maintenance. Because it is much lighter it saves fuel: on an Airbus 321 up to 54 tonnes per aircraft per year. It is available for both single and twin-aisle aircraft. Due to its simplicity and low installation costs, it is especially suitable for aircraft that do not feature an IFE system yet. The majority of these are single-aisle aircraft. However, it is a good choice for retrofits and installation on wide-body aircraft as well.


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